Riftstorm Pre-Alpha Hands-On Preview

Riftstorm is a new roguelite looter shooter preparing to break onto the scene, but before it sees its 2025 launch its developer Mythic Protocol is holding a second pre-alpha playtest to better refine its offerings based on player feedback. I recently went hands-on with this playtest to assess the state of the game firsthand. And what I found was a flashy looter shooter with an entertaining gameplay loop that increases in its zaniness as rounds carry on.

In the latest Rifstorm playtest, I was able to select from game’s four characters: Starling, Hertz, Spraybot and Codename: Icarus (yes, that’s their name). The vibrant style of the graffiti-splashed Spraybot immediately caught my attention and remained my primary character for the duration of my playtime. Each character has their own set of active and passive skills that unlock as they progress towards the level 15 cap, but it was Spraybot’s trusty turret that sounded like the best fit for testing the waters of Rifstorm in solo play. As a note, the game does require an internet connection regardless of if you’re playing solo or in 3-player co-op.

Once I stopped ogling my brightly-colored robot avatar, I checked their main and sub weapons and initial skills. Then it was off to the the Mission Center table to dive right into the action. The available missions are separated by location and required combat power (CP). As a looter shooter, gear plays a role in increasing the player’s power level so that higher tier missions can be undertaken (and greater loot can be obtained). Additionally, Mythic Protocol made the helpful decision to show the available loot pool of any given mission, making targeted farming much easier in the late game I imagine.

Jumping into the gameplay was seamless. Since I used a controller, Riftstorm controlled like a fluid twin-stick shooter, à la Diablo with guns. It wasn’t long before I was comfortably blasting Mythics, the game’s name for its various deadly creatures, using a chargeable rocket launcher. That barebones rocket launcher quickly evolved into a death machine, turning each rocket into a cluster bomb that sent ricocheting shots bouncing through hordes of enemies.

This beefy upgrade came thanks to the crystalline fragments called Lythons. Lythons are temporary powers that come in one of four flavors: buffs, debuffs, offensive and survival. After clearing a room, players can choose one of three randomly-spawned Lythons to augment their character for the remaining duration of that particular run. Finding upgrades, like those that tripled the time for a perfect charge and caused ricochet shots to deal additional damage, advanced Spraybot’s starting launcher into a screen-wiping weapon of mass destruction.

Upon level completion, I was met with the typical loot of various rarities (green, blue, etc.). However, there’s a limited inventory of nine slots for the player to work with, resulting in the decision of which weapons to keep and which to scrap after each mission. I found myself assessing CP, stats and unique modifiers as I decided what weapons best suited my desired play style and ascent into higher CP missions. Nothing was locking me into that launcher playstyle with Spraybot, but I was driven to hunt down better launchers to see how nutty the build could truly become on any given run.

Full disclosure: I didn’t play the first pre-alpha playtest at the end of 2023. So I cannot speak to how the game has evolved from personal experience, but Mythic Protocol did state that story driven, 3-stage Shade missions were added to provide extra narrative depth as well as an endless challenge tower called Site 19 to test those max level characters. There looked to be a fair bit on offer for this pre-alpha playtest and it bodes well for a content-dense game upon release.

Riftstorm certainly has appealing aesthetics and wild power combinations, incentivizing experimentation, which could very well help it stand out in a sea of roguelites when it launches in 2025.

Editor’s Note: Riftstorm uses blockchain and NFTs as a technological layer to track changes and for players to track the legacy of their actions, according to Mythic Protocol in 2023. We have reached out to confirm that these systems are still present and planned for full launch and will update our note when we hear back.

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